British Islamic State Jihadists outnumber British Muslim military members
… there are approximately 600 British Muslim service members in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. Official government estimates put the number of British Islamic State fighters operating in Syria and Iraq at up to 800.
Britain’s Muslim community has just received much international attention with speculation that the ISIS/IS (Islamic State) murder of journalist James Foley was done at the hands of a British citizen. Now USA Today is reporting:
More British Muslims fight for Islamic State than Britain
From: USA TODAY
By: Kim Hjelmgaard and John Bacon, August 21, 2014
LONDON — It is likely that there are now more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for Britain’s military.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense confirmed to USA TODAY that there are approximately 600 British Muslim servicemembers in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. Official government estimates put the number of British Islamic State fighters operating in Syria and Iraq at up to 800. The Foreign Office cautioned Thursday that it is difficult to provide precise numbers.
The militant who beheaded American journalist James Foley in a horrifying video released this week spoke with a British accent. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the militant in the video could be a British national. And he knows the problem of British jihadists is not a new one.
“This is something we have been tracking and dealing with for many, many months and I don’t think this video changes anything,” he said. “It just heightens awareness of a situation which is very grave.”
In 2013 we reported on how the U.K. insists on dealing with their Islamic terror problems by dismissing attacks and incidents as the actions of some radical “lone wolf”, ignoring organized internal Islamist factions. Frequently there is appeasement to the British Muslim community, even suggesting Muslim victim hood in western society could be the cause. According to the above USA Today article:
Ghaffar Hussain, of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank in Britain, said the lure could be empowerment for many British Muslims with grievances over their treatment in a predominantly non-Muslim society. “It makes them feel like they are part of something that is important to the world,” he said. “If you feel like you don’t really fit in or if Muslims are being attacked and a narrative comes along that explains all that away in a simple way, that is attractive.”
To address the problem of Britain’s Muslims heading off to the Middle East to participate in jihad, it’s reported the government has implemented a diversion type program:
Hussain said a task force was set up – called Channel – to identify people who have been flagged in schools and institutions as being at risk of being drawn into extremism. Channel then pairs them with a mentor who assesses their needs and tries to offer support. But, he said, a major failing of the program is that it only works if individuals are flagged by the system.
The official U.K. government estimates may be overly conservative. A Newsweek article reports:
Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, estimates that at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria in the last three years.
Mahmood told Newsweek that this figure had been building since the start of the Syrian conflict: “If you look across the whole of the country, and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate.”
If MP Mahmood’s numbers are accurate, it would mean over twice as many British Muslim ISIS/IS fighters than Muslims serving in the British military.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: The U.K. government knows they have a problem – a very big one – 800 known British jihadists in addition to the “unknowns”. The damage of years of permissive immigration policies and ignoring the internal Islamist threat has been done. It is almost beyond any rational thought to consider some form of a “Big Brother” mentoring program as a means to stop British jihadists from joining ISIS/IS. Hopefully the U.K. leaders have a much better plan for when the fighters return home. According to this report, a number already have.